Back in November 2013, Facebook reportedly tried to buy nascent social media app Snapchat for $3 billion (it now has a valuation of $20 billion), but the offer was turned down. Three years later, Facebook has decided if you can’t buy ’em, it doesn’t mean you can’t copy ‘em.
Today, the Facebook-owned social media app Instagram announced Instagram Stories, a new feature that lets users share a series of videos and pictures in a slideshow format, separate from their timeline. The feature is accompanied by a new photo editing tool that lets users write or draw on photos or add emojis.
The feature is virtually identical to the Snapchat Stories feature, launched in Oct. 2013, down to their now-you-see-them, now-you-don’t nature. Like Snapchat Stories, Instagram Stories will disappear after 24 hours and won’t appear on a user’s profile grid or in their feed. If Instagram users don’t want their story to disappear, they can “upgrade” it to their main feed before the 24-hour time limit expires.
Instagram Stories will be rolled out globally to users on iOS and Android platforms over the next several week.
Facebook shouldn’t feel too threatened by Snapchat. While Snapchat may have outpaced Instagram in terms of hip cachet, it trails in active daily users — Instagram boasts 300 million, while Snapchat has only 150 million.
Users will see Instagram Stories from people they follow in a bar at the top of their feeds. If a story has been updated, a colorful ring will appear around the user’s profile photo. Users tap on the profile photo to view the story and swipe to view another person’s story. Users can comment on stories in a private message via Instagram Direct, but, unlike regular posts, they are not enabled for likes or public comments.